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Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life

Gettysburg in Rehab

John Summers, Boston College
New Date: April 1, 2009
Time: 12:00 PM - 1:15 PM
Location: Boisi Center, 24 Quincy Road

picture of an old cannon

For the last decade the National Park Service has been "rehabilitating" the Gettysburg National Military Park, demolishing buildings, uprooting trees, rebuilding fence lines, in order to return the battlefield to its July 1863 appearance. In the Gettysburg Address, President Lincoln said "we cannot dedicate -- we cannot consecrate -- we cannot hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract." Why then does the land need to be rehabilitated, a process of adding and detracting in the same stroke? This talk will present the past and future of the rehabilitation, casting its politics, morality, economy, and aesthetics in terms of its commemorative history. Historian John H. Summers is the author of Every Fury on Earth and editor of The Politics of Truth: Selected Writings of C. Wright Mills. Born and raised in Gettysburg, he received his doctorate in history from the University of Rochester in 2006. He is currently a Visiting Scholar at the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life. Read Summers’ essay on the topic, “Gettysburg Regress,” from the March 18, 2009 issue of The New Republic. (More info on John Summers...)